Man acquitted in 1986 stripper killings in second trial

A man with a history of violent crime accused of killing two exotic dancers more than 20 years ago has been acquitted of their murders.

David Raymond Couture was convicted in 2003 of two counts of second-degree murder stemming from the slayings of his girlfriend Darlinda Ritchey, 27, and Karen Baker, 20. He was ordered to spend life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 16 years.

Couture, who has several previous assault convictions in Surrey, successfully appealed the conviction and won a new trial that began last month. During the second trial, court heard from a slew of witnesses, many of whom testified Couture told them he wanted to confess to a crime involving two ladies.

But B.C. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kelleher ruled Wednesday that the statements provided by all witnesses had been "lacking in any detail."

"I am unable to say I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is responsible for the deaths of Darlinda Ritchey and Karen Baker," said Kelleher. "Mr. Couture must be and is therefore acquitted."